A massive, indigenous-led protest is scheduled to start 10 a.m. Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia, against the planned expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. More than 7,000 people have signed up, with several groups on this side of the border lending support.
Opposition to the so-called “twinning” of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which would nearly triple its capacity, has been building for years. Environmental groups and Canadian First Nations have more than a dozen lawsuits proceeding against it, and there have been many protests.
But this weekend’s action may be the largest yet. Opposition groups held a webinar last month, outlining best ways for allies to support the indigenous-led efforts. Among the speakers was Tsleil Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George, who said now is the time to “warrior up.”
“So I’m pleading with you people, who are listening. You don’t just say oh it’s the Indians who are fighting this, it’s the environmentalists. No – it’s, if you live in the lower mainland, it’s up to you, to stand up and say ‘no’ to Kinder Morgan,” she said.
Thousands have signed up to do just that, including multiple groups from Washington state.
Victoria Leistman, an organizer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels initiative, has been helping to organize carpools. She says she’s very excited to see such a big turnout in support of this movement.
“This is the time to do it because the folks who are on the front lines of this project – the Coast Salish people, First Nations – are requesting that we be there. So, it is an exciting moment,” Leistman said.
She has also worked on a cross-border fundraising campaign to support the legal fight against the pipeline, called Pull Together 2.0. So far they have raised more than $600,000.
The pipeline’s expansion would nearly triple the amount of oil coming into terminal at Burrard Inlet, where the Tsleil Wauthuth is based.
They and other groups argue that with the environmental impact statements showing there could be as many as 7 times more tankers crossing the Salish Sea once it's complete, the risk extends into Puget Sound.
Kinder Morgan says it can expand the pipeline safely and while respecting indigenous rights. And a counter-protest, supporting the pipeline, is also planned for Saturday afternoon.